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Occupational Health Services in Turkey

Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country. According to the 2009 census, more than 77 million people live in Turkey, three quarters of them in towns and cities. People within the 15–64 age groups constitute 67% of the total population, the 0–14 age group is 26% of the population, and people 65 years old and above make up 7%. On the other hand, 40% of the population is in the working group.

The Ministry of Social Welfare in Turkey administers occupational health services. The first labour law was passed in 1936 and a new labour law was enacted in 1971. In 2003, the law was updated again and it includes important articles for the improvement of OH services.

However, there were no articles in this law specifying the job duties and responsibilities of OHNs. In addition, the independent roles of OHNs were not defined but instead they were included as personnel who assist a physician. Because of this, the Turkish Occupational Health Nursing Association (TOHNA) opened a lawsuit against the Ministry and then the Supreme court stopped the implementation of this law.

Untill now, many regulations have been passed and later on were changed. Hovewer, according to the latest law related to occupational health and safety (no:6331) which is published in June 2012; OHN is defined but the duties and roles of OHN had not exempflied.

Then, in July 2013, new regulation was published and OHN is defined as an assistant of physician under the group of others and the roles and duties were described which are not as expected but it is still better to have them legally. Nevertheless, another new regulation was passed in late July 2013 which give right to all nurses who have different graduation and other health staff to gain OHN certificate with 90 hours education.

OHN proffesionals believe that it would have been better if OHN was defined as a seperate entity and its job duties and responsibilities were stated clearly. The latest regulation is not better than the one in 2003 and we have a long way to go to have a regulation which could be considered as adequate by OHN professionals.

However, an OH service team comprises a nurse, a physician and occupational safety experts. There are approximately 3,300 OH physicians in Turkey. Although the number of occupational safety experts is not known, it is supposedly higher than the number of OHNs and physicians.

Occupational Health Nurse Education

In Turkey, nursing education was based in secondary education schools until 1959. İt lasted 4 years following 8 years of compulsory education.

Students took nursing courses in addition to general high school courses. At the end of this programme, students were given a diploma and the title of "nurse". Four-year undergraduate nursing education offering a Bachelor’s degree first started at Ege University in 1955. There were various programmes of nursing education until 1977 including: a high school diploma programme, an associate degree programme and a Bachelor programme.

Eventually, in 1997, all nursing education was undertaken at universities where the nursing schools commenced offering a 4-year university education. Today there are more than 100 nursing schools affiliated with Universities. However, many private and official high schools have been opened up again since 2011. There are more than 500 high school at the moment. The aim of these new regulation to cover up the gap between nurses vacancy and requirement.

The Nursing organization and other NGOs have objected to this implementation due to education quality and also it is very unfortunate that it is not just that issue of nursing professionalism but also these student are still children and it is too risky to take all stress in hospitals and also to take very intensive curriculum due to their developmental stage.

Postgraduate nursing education began in 1970 and since then MSN and PhD degrees in public health nursing have been offered. OH nursing classes are given within these programmes; however, there have not been any specific MSN or PhD programmes in OH nursing.

In Turkey, any graduate nurse is entitled to work as an OH nurse, but they are mainly chosen from among those nurses who completed high school diploma programmes or who got MSN in Public Health Nursing.

Turkish Occupational Health Nursing Association (TOHNA)

Turkish Occupational Health Nursing Association (TOHNA) was founded in 2003 and prepared a draft law on OHNs’ roles, functions, authority and qualifications, which was presented to the Ministry of Social Welfare. It has almost 200 members.

To ensure:

  • the health , safety, optimum working capacity
  • the well-being of working population


  • To promote the role and missions of the profession
  • To develop reflection and research in the fields of competence of the OHN
  • To encourage continuing education in the speciality
  • To value the expertise of the OHN

For further information contact:

Melek Nihal Esin This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ayşe Beşer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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